PREVIEW: York United FC vs. Pacific FC — Match #7

2021 CPL regular season (The Kickoff) — Match #7
York United FC vs. Pacific FC
July 1, 2021 at 5:00 pm ET/4:00 pm CT
IG Field in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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York United: Nathan Ingham, Dominick Zator (c), Max Ferrari, Noah Verhoeven, Diyaeddine Abzi, Michael Petrasso, Cedric Toussaint, Isaiah Johnston, Terique Mohammed, Chrisnovic N’Sa, Lowell Wright

Pacific FC: Callum Irving, Kadin Chung, Abdoulaye Samake, Lukas Macnaughton, Marco Bustos, Josh Heard, Kunle Dada-Luke, Terran Campbell, Jamar Dixon (c), Ollie Bassett, Manuel Aparicio


The CPL’s Canada Day doubleheader kicks off Thursday with a tantalizing clash between two hungry young teams, in York United FC and Pacific FC.

Matches between these sides have often been tense affairs; at the Island Games last year, York thought they’d won it with a gorgeous 70th-minute strike from Álvaro Rivero, but Lukas MacNaughton, with almost the last kick of the game in the 92nd minute, snatched a point for Pacific.

A heavily refigured York United squad enters this one looking for their first points of 2021, having fallen just short on Sunday in a 2-1 loss to Cavalry FC. A late surge, centred around a screamer of a free kick goal by Diyaeddine Abzi, put the Cavs on their heels, but Jimmy Brennan’s York side didn’t quite have a second goal in them.

“We were resilient, 2-0 down, and it’s easy for teams to give up,” Brennan told reporters on Wednesday. “We didn’t we kept on pushing at it, and I thought the guys did well for their first game.”

Pacific, meanwhile, are flying high at the moment after comfortably dispatching 2020 CPL finalists HFX Wanderers FC on Saturday, with goals by Marco Bustos and Ollie Bassett capping off an excellent afternoon for the Van Isle club. They were quite strong across the board in their first game, with a well-rounded performance both on and off the ball, and coach Pa-Modou Kah is just as quick to praise the defensive effort as the attacking performance.

“As a former centre-back, you play to keep clean sheets,” Kah told reporters on Wednesday. “That’s what I tell (defenders), if you keep clean sheets and nobody’s talking about you, that means you’ve done a great job.”

He added that his side is only going to get better, suggesting it’ll take 10 to 15 games to see them fully in sync and cohesive. Plus, they’ll likely get Matthew Baldisimo back into the mix soon (although Wednesday’s game against York is a little too early for the midfielder, who is still working his way up to match fitness).

At the other end of the pitch, York is mostly healthy too — Nicholas Hamilton is still working his way into the squad, and Jordan Faria is on his way back from an injury, but other than that they’ll be mostly fresh (if still a little rusty after their extended time off after 2020).

“It’ll be a good match,” Brennan said. “Pacific’s a good footballing team, so it’ll be a good test for us in our second match.”


  • Set-piece battle, feat. Manny Aparicio: This contest will likely mark former York skipper Manny Aparicio’s first time playing against the club he represented the past two seasons. Aparicio moved across the country to Vancouver Island this offseason, and now he might be looking to give his old team a taste of the set-piece ability that served them so well previously. Aparicio scored from a direct free kick in two consecutive games at the Island Games, and he’s been one of the CPL’s best dead-ball specialists over two years. That said, York’s goal on Sunday came from a free kick as well — a blistering Diyaeddine Abzi strike. The set-piece routines have been key to Jimmy Brennan’s team for a while now, so expect both sides to try their luck with those opportunities. For Aparicio, though, it’ll be important not to think too much about the opponent, suggested Kah: “Obviously you’re gonna have some butterflies, which is the greatest thing because you’re facing your former teammates, but he’s in such a great place he just wants to play anyway; It’s not about Manny versus York, this is Pacific versus York.”
  • Chung & Bustos vs. Abzi: About 44% of York United’s attack on Sunday came down the left flank, with Diyaeddine Abzi perhaps the brightest spot on the pitch for Brennan’s side in his advanced left-wing role. Meanwhile, Pacific boasts arguably the best right-sided one-two punch on the league, with fullback Kadin Chung lining up just behind star attacker Marco Bustos. Whether it’s Chung trying to hold off Abzi, or Bustos bearing down on young York left-back Terique Mohammed, expect some of the most important battles in this game to come down that side — whoever comes out better from those individual competitions could be on the path to winning this one. Brennan explained that he expects his left flank to put pressure on Bustos and Chung: “(Pacific) have got to make a decision, are they gonna track runners, are they gonna follow these guys, or are they gonna let them go? Going the other way, we know we can match them for pace as well so I think it’ll be a good contested match down the right and left sides.”
  • Can York match Pacific’s finishing? In the weekend’s matches, Pacific took nine shots (four of them on target), and York took 10 (5). Pacific, however, scored twice — both times in open play — while York struggled to truly challenge Cavalry keeper Marco Carducci outside of dead-ball situations. Of course, both of Pacific’s goals required real individual quality, with Bustos’ run and finish and Ollie Bassett’s outrageous strike from distance, but nonetheless they were able to turn chances into goals. York only scored two goals from open play in 2020, and they would certainly love to string together some more of those as soon as possible — certainly, getting in sync in the final third is hard right now, having missed out on a proper preseason. Lowell Wright, playing in the number nine role for them last game, showed excellent movement and flashes of his talent with the ball, so perhaps he could be the best option; either way, York will hope to find a little finishing magic to rival Pacific’s. That said, Brennan pointed out there’s no shame in scoring most of your goals from set-pieces: “If you’re not getting fouled, you’re getting those opportunities on goal; you’re getting into those areas because your momentum is carrying you forward.”

York United wins: 3 || Pacific wins: 1 || Draws: 2

Previous match:
August 18, 2020 – York United FC 1-1 Pacific FC


“(York) were 2-0 down, but they didn’t stop working, they didn’t stop fighting… It all depends on our preparation and our mentality going into this game, we know what we’re facing.” — Pa-Modou Kah, Pacific FC head coach

“Their energy levels are going to be very high, we’ve got to make sure that we can try to at least match them.” — Jimmy Brennan, York United head coach

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